This letter was written by Samuel H. Ledford (1820-1900), the eldest child of Henry Ledford ¹ (1795-1856) and Catharine “Kate”) Stanley (1802-1871). Samuel’s siblings were Phebe M. Ledford (1824-1867), Sally Ledford (1829-1859), Henry Franklin Ledford (1835-1864), Preston L. Ledford (1837-1922), and Elizabeth C. Ledford (1840-1915). [Note: Henry Franklin Ledford enlisted as a private in Co. A, 42nd North Carolina Infantry, and died a prisoner of war in February 1864 at Rock Island, Illinois.] Samuel’s mother — Kate Stanley — was the daughter of Reuben Stanley (1768-1804) and Mary Mock (1776-1817) of Rowan, North Carolina. Kate’s brother, Philip Stanley (1795-1872), is mentioned near the end of this letter.
Samuel married Nancy Lockabill (1822-1910) in January 1858. [Note: surname might have been Lockahill] Samuel later became a physician and died in Texas.
Written from Lexington, Missouri, Samuel describes the select school he has been conducting and updates his family on the country, the local weather and commodity prices, and society in general. He urges his family to dig up their North Carolina roots and relocate to Missouri where the livestock are “as fat as a butter ball” and their hides are “as slick as moles.” We learn from this letter that Samuel boarded with the family of Richard Fountain “Fount” Page, Sr. (1815-1852) of Lexington.
Addressed to Mr. Henry Ledford, Brummells, Davidson County, North Carolina
State of Missouri
May 15, 1846
Dear Father and Mother, Sisters and Brothers,
I received your letter this morning bearing date the 12 of April which gave me great satisfaction to hear from you and that you were all well. I regretted to hear that Israel was in such feeble health though I hope he may get well again and to hear of the deaths that has occurred since I left but I glory in hearing of so many weddings in Carolina. I am enjoying good health and have enjoyed excellent health ever since I left you. I have not laid in bed a minute with sickness since I left home hoping that these few lines will find you all enjoying the same state of health or better.
When I received your letter, it had been broken open. The mail was robbed in Illinois and the letter was tore so bad that I had to guess at a part of it. I understand that the robber was detected and taken up. It was the driver.
My school will expire on the 23 of this month. I shall clear $12 per month at least. My eyes are well at last, I believe. I have not had on my spectacles since my school commenced. I got some stuff of a man in Lexington which help more powerfully.
We have had a very late spring and a very wet one. There has [been] more rain this spring than I ever saw before in the same length of time. The people are not yet done planting corn yet. This section of the country is tolerable healthy at present. I have not been to Mr. Spurgin’s since I wrote to you before and I have not heard from them since nor I have not been in the settlement of Uncle Mock’s in 6 weeks. They were all well when I was there. I was down at Stone’s and _____ Friday after Easter Sunday. They were all well then. They all said they wanted you to move to this country. Old Miss Stone said she wanted me to remember her best respect to Mother and that she would like to see her mighty well.
Corn in worth from 62½ cents to 74 cents per barrel. Wheat is worth 45 cents per bushel. Bacon is worth $4.00 per cwt. Oats is worth 15 cents per bushel. Hemp is worth $2.25 per cwt.
I should like to see you all mighty well and if I live and nothing happens more than I am aware of, I shall start for Carolina by the first of September. Daniel Cecil is coming to school to me and he says that he will be ready to start to Carolina by the time set. He is well and so is John B. Cecil. We are all living in the same neighborhood. I expect I shall take another school at the same place for three months and no longer. They want me to commence for five months but I cannot for the day begins to seem pretty long though I am not much homesick yet.
The prairies are green as the meadows in Carolina and they present a beautiful aspect. Tell Eliza and Elizabeth I should like if they were here to gather the pretty flower out of the prairies with my school children. I want you to fix and come to this country as soon as you can. Tell brother Charles Long I should like for him to come to see this country and I think he would not be so hostile against this country but he would desert Carolina and at once be willing to spend the balance of his days in Missouri. It is a great curiosity to see the cows, horses, mules, and sheep grazing on our big meadows and they are all as fat as a butter ball and as slick as moles. And we get milk and butter of any quantity and I see no use of staying in Carolina. The society in this country is very good.
I am still boarding with Richard F. Page and he is a fine man to live with. I do not know whether you wanted me to answer any questions or not for my letter was tore so bad that I could hardly make out anything and a part of the letter was torn off and lost. Your name was torn off it.
Tell Phebe and Sally I should like to have went with them to the May weddings. Tell Franklin and Preston to spread themselves and learn the books with all their might. I must bring my letter to a close. Remember my best respect to all my relations, friends, and acquaintances. So nothing more at present but remaining your affectionate son until death, — Samuel H. Ledford
Tell Uncle Phillip Stanley that Miss Stone told me to tell him that she had been waiting for him five or six years and she is getting impatient and she is ready to marry him at any moment that he will come to this country. So I will quit writing for the want of room. — S. H. Ledford
I expect to go to see all the Carolinians week after next for I am agoing to rest a week. I have not only lost one day in my school and that will throw it out on Saturday. As soon as you receive my letter, I want you to answer it forthwith and direct your letter to Lexington, Mo., Lafayette County
¹ Henry Ledford was a gunsmith. His house and shop were located in Davidson County along the waters of Abbott’s Creek, near present day Highway 109, between Ledford Middle School and Ledford High School. His wife was named Catharine. It is thought that Henry Ledford apprenticed with Christoph Vogler in Salem because his rifles closely resemble rifles from the Salem School in every way except the barrel tang and how the forestock molding is terminated. Many of his rifles also have an Eagle Patchbox that is a Vogler trademark. He was a prolific maker of Long rifles and many fine examples of his work survive. He died in 1856.